Math Was Always a Favourite Subject of Mine

We’re talking numbers today! I always liked Math in school because it had rules. I wouldn’t say my life is run by rules, but I find things much easier to understand when the grey area is gone, as is largely the case with numbers. Even though I was a Psych major in University, my favourite courses were Statistics, Linear Algebra, and Philosophy of Logic.

An example of a Logic Equation is: If A equals B, and all B’s equal C, then A must equal C. OR
If A = B, and B = C, then A = C.
Rules. Simple.

Let’s build out an example.

If 51 (A) is the recorded number of deaths (B) at St. Mary’s Residential School in Kamloops, and all deaths (B) are underreported (C), then 51 (A) must be an underreported number (C). Rules. Simple.

Last week, that simple logic equation was proven true when a mass grave of 215 Indigenous children was found at St. Mary’s Residential School.

Approximately 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people attended residential schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada estimates 4,100 Indigenous children died at Residential schools. They also concluded it’s impossible to know the true number. So, what then is the accurate number of deaths? Some estimates say closer to 6,000.

The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement has identified 139 residential schools that operated across Canada from the 1870s to 1990s, while the exact number is still unknown because some operated without federal support. Here’s some more quick math to explore other possibilities.

139 schools with an average of 215 unreported deaths at each:

139 x 215 = 29,885 deaths

But let’s say that 215 is not the average amount of unreported deaths at each school, and that it’s half that number, to say an average of 107 deaths (reported and unreported total) at each school:

139 x 107 = 14, 873 deaths

That’s more than 3.5 times (14,873/4,100 = 3.62) the current estimate of deaths. Even a quarter of the 215 deaths as an average of 54 deaths per school is 7,506 deaths (139 x 54 = 7,506). Which is 1.25 times higher than the current higher estimate of deaths that occurred in Residential schools (7,500/6000 = 1.25). And again that estimate is simply based off the existence of 139 documented schools, when there were indeed more in operation.

These numbers are of course not taking into account student body size, i.e. more deaths would occur at schools with a higher student population. But even as a rudimentary exercise, it’s impossible to argue that the current numbers are not underestimated.

Those equations won’t click for everyone. So let’s switch gears and do some counting. For the purposes of this exercise, together we will count to 10, using Gregory Stanton’s 10-stage Model of Genocide (2012).

Math isn’t always fun.

I end with an excerpt from Chapter 2 of “Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials. The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Volume 4

“In short, both the regulatory regime in which the schools operated and the level of compliance with that regime were inadequate to the task of protecting the health and safety of the students. Government, church, and school officials were well aware of these failures and their impact on student health. If the question is, ‘Who knew what when?’ the clear answer is, ‘Everyone in authority at any point in the system’s history was well aware of the health and safety conditions in the schools.’”

It’s genocide. Simple.